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Lesson Plans
Poems for Peace
3rd–5th Grade
Objectives Objectives
  • Students will listen to an oral reading about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Students will identify key words that describe his work and values.
  • Students will create their own poems that promote peace in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

  1. Show students the picture of Martin Luther King Jr. on the front cover of the book and ask them to identify him.
  2. Explain that Dr. King’s birthday is celebrated as a national holiday in the United States to honor him and his contribution to society.
  3. Read aloud Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport.



  1. After reading the story, ask students to help you brainstorm a list of words from the book that describe what Dr. King advocated (e.g., freedom, peace, equality, etc.). Write these words on chart paper or a chalkboard.
  2. Invite students to suggest their own words (not from the book) that also describe the kind of person Martin Luther King Jr. was. Add these words to the list.
  3. Encourage students to think of more details about Dr. King’s life from the book to support the words they choose. For example, if a student suggests the word compassionate, you might ask, “What events from the story lead you to think Martin Luther King Jr. was compassionate?” and so on.
  4. Help students draw connections between a person’s actions and the words that are used to define that person’s character.

Guided Practice Guided Practice

  1. Give each student a copy of the Martin Luther King Jr. poem.
  2. Have students work in pairs to underline words that describe what he stood for.
  3. Invite students to share their findings with the class by writing their words on chart paper or a chalkboard. Encourage them to point out words that are found in the story and in the poem.

Independent Practice

Independent Practice

  1. Tell students that, as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and his values, you would like them to create their own poems for peace and harmony. (You could assign this for homework or as an in-class project.)
  2. Provide students with a poem template and have them write their own peace poems!
  3. Invite volunteers to read their poems aloud. Create a classroom display of their work titled “Poems for Peace” for all students to enjoy.

the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




Social Studies

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